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3 Wild Life Lessons I Learned Traveling and Living in Paris, Berlin, and London On My Own At Age 19

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I went from being a relatively sheltered teenager to a full-grown adult overnight. It was a “perfect” first night in London, and many similar nights would follow – we would go out to beautiful restaurants, ride the weekend bullet train to Paris, dance at clubs that only stayed open until 1 am (because the train station in London closed so early at midnight – quite the “culture shock” for a New Yorker like me), ride triple-decker buses while drunk, watch Shakespeare plays at the Globe, hop on the London Eye to see the whole city from a bird’s-eye view, stay up late talking and laughing in the “study room” after gathering our favorite German cider from the shops, and (quite exciting to my 19-going-on-20-year-old self at the time) even got to watch one of the Harry Potter movies when it first came out and attend the premiere when it occurred in London.

Many parts of the trip were a beautiful experience, but the process of studying abroad definitely thrust me straight into adulthood, challenged me to pick up some survival skills at a younger age and develop a sense of independence I otherwise not would have until later in life.The London “gang” created a “buddy system” for a group trip within a trip: a weekend in Paris.

We would choose someone from our group we would room with in Paris who actually knew French (quite a resourceful plan when you consider it was created by a bunch of early twenty-somethings, thinking back on it) and “stick” with our buddy while traveling to France.

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